It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the day we celebrate and venerate all things American. Football. Chicken Wings and Chili. Excess and Commerce with a half time break for music.
The mid-game mini-concert usually features an act either at the peak of their career or who’s made a shitload of money for the music industry and might convince grandma to watch the game.
In the days before Vegas Sportsbooks took bets on what past hits or hairstyles would be featured at halftime, I remember Chubby Checker being wheeled out to the midfield stage. The network big shot hosting the Super Bowl party I was attending smirked, “Hard to believe Chubby had room in his schedule for this.”
Television and films have traditionally only embraced what was new and exciting in American music long after its star has begun to wane. Despite notably exceptions like Ed Sullivan and the Monkees, it’s almost impossible for those bringing something new and innovative to the music scene to have those national stages.
It’s a point poignantly brought home by the fact that this year’s Super Bowl falls on the anniversary of “The Day The Music Died”, February 3rd, 1959, when three of Rock ‘n Roll’s first stars, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash.
Volumes have been written and dozens of films made about those men and the tragic final tour that bonded them forever in death. And much more has been posited about what music would be like today if they had survived.
Whether or not they would have changed things can never be determined. But I’m fairly certain that had he lived, sometime in the 1970’s when the Dallas Cowboys were a football superpower, Buddy Holly would have been on that halftime stage.
And most of those watching would have found him old and tired, one of those American icons who had to be given their moment if only to prop up somebody’s flagging music catalogue.
Here’s a sample of what Buddy Holly had to offer. And the unforgettable song about what happened to “the music” after his death.
Bye-Bye Miss American Pie. Make Way for Super Bowl Chili.
Enjoy Your Sunday.